Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Parent Trap

I'd like to take a moment to deviate from the main topic of this blog and talk about something else that's really important to me: my parents. Bear with me, people. This might get mushy.

For the record, I have the greatest parents in the entire world. This is not a biased opinion, but hard fact. I even have evidence to back it up.

1. My mom cooks for me whenever I come home. Yes, this is something lots of mothers do, but mine does it best.

2. My mom sends me emails. This is also something other mothers do, but mine does it better. Today she emailed me to ask if I'd ever eaten at some obscure sandwich shop, and to tell me she bought me a 50's black and white polkadot dress at the Goodwill.

3. Sometimes my mommy buys me groceries.

4. My mom watches Golden Girls with me.

5. My padre also sends me emails, which I can guarantee are better than any email you've ever received from anyone, at any time. Case in point:

I heard your podray would not let you try a sip of coffee from his
cup.But you can always have a drink from my water dish.I hope you
change your mind about me. I think I am kind of cute.I love you, Mr.
Puffy snake

6. My padre sometimes fills up my car with gas. And then keeps me from leaving for an extra ten minutes because he wants to double-check the tires to make sure I won't die on the drive home.

7. If I come home for the weekend, my padre runs out to the car, shouting, "Sum's home! Sum's home!" I'm then smothered with hugs and more shouting.

8. My padre can't actually spell 'padre.'

I always hear people complaining about their parents, and that makes me sad. I wish I could clone my parents and share them with those kids. But I guess, if I did that, they wouldn't really be my parents, and they aren't something I want to share.

The closer it gets to June, the more I realize that I'll have to leave my parents. I always knew I'd have to someday, but someday isn't that far away anymore. I won't be able to come home on the weekends to do laundry (I refuse to spend $12 every time I want to wash my clothes. Landlords suck.), or spend an afternoon thrifting with my mom. My dad won't wander into my room with my sister's pet snake, trying to creep me out. I'll get to see them once or twice a year, and while I'm ready to move on and live my life, it's still sad to think about leaving them.

My parents are the reason I've gotten to where I am today. They've constantly encouraged me, and instilled in me an indispensable work ethic. We don't have a lot of money; my mom and dad both work two jobs, and I've had to pay for college myself. My parents never even went to college. But you know what? They've never once complained. They've taken everything in stride, and they've raised three kids. I think we all turned out pretty well, too (even if my brother still likes to pull stupid pranks, and my sister has a pet snake). My dad is the happiest person I've ever met, and I try to emulate that. I've learned not to sweat the small stuff, and when the bigger things come around, well, I've got my parents.

You know what else makes my parents so great? They've let me fail. They've let me make my own choices and learn from my mistakes. If they hadn't let me go to Ireland, I'd be a completely different person right now, and I don't think I'd like her nearly as much. They let me transfer colleges three times, even if they didn't know whether the next school would be the right one. Heck, they let me major in whatever I wanted, even though the economy sucks and jobs are hard to come by. They've been there to support me through every decision, even if they didn't like it. I'm still not sure how they feel about me moving to New York, but you know what? They're letting me do it, and they're still behind me. They've supported my writing, and even though I haven't let them read any of it, they still tell their friends about it. Like it's cool, and something to be proud of. Not every parent does that, and I'm unfailingly grateful that my parents believe in me. I could've gone to school to make wooden shoes and they'd probably tell everyone how proud they were, but they're parents, you know? It's what they do.

My life's had its ups and downs, there's no doubt about that. Middle school and high school were rough, but my parents always told me things would get better. And they did. Looking back, I wish I'd listened to them. It would've saved me a whole lot of stress, let me tell you! These days, as college comes to an end, and the rest of my life is starting to come into focus, I can honestly tell all you younger folks that things really do start to look up once you're an adult. Listen to your parents - they've been through it, and they aren't lying (despite what you think now. Trust me, I used to be one of you).

So hats off to you, Madre and Padre. You really are the greatest parents in the world, and I can never thank you enough for the woman you've helped me become.

(And, for the record, I can't wait to see my dad in Time Square. Talk about a fish out of water. I'll be sure to get pictures.)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Coffee Table Books

I love coffee table books, despite the fact that I currently lack said coffee table. When I move to New York, I plan to get one ASAP, in order to properly display my growing collection of coffee table books. Which, realistically, could probably just form a table themselves, but that's not the point. I don't know what it is about this kind of book that I love to collect, but the last few years have been spent carefully picking out things I feel represent me as a person, and cover most of my interests. Maybe that makes me really strange, and this post is probably completely useless to most of you, but I thought I'd take a few moments to suggest some light reading. Here are a few of the books I'm excited to display!

The Selby is one of my favorite websites. I stalk it on a regular basis, and you should too. If I hadn't gone into creative writing, I'd probably have gone into design (either interior or personal style). I lived for the old days of Trading Spaces on TLC, and when I'm confronted with a new television, HGTV is one of the first channels I search for. I urge you to check out the website -- it's full of awesome interiors and design ideas. A lot of these people live in New York and have tiny apartments, so I'm definitely taking note on how they utilize their space. Plus, the pictures and interviews are great.

One of the things I'm most excited about when moving to New York is the ability to finally get involved with Improv Everywhere. I think what they do is genius, and I've been dreaming of the day when I could witness - or, even better, participate - in a mission. If you haven't heard of them before, check out their website. This book is a summary of some of their greatest hits, and I laugh every time I look at it.

Did you know I used to be a double-major? Creative writing and art history. Turns out it'd take more than five years to graduate if I wanted both, so I dropped art history. Still, I took a lot of classes on it, and my favorite was taught by Nancy Marshall on the Pre-Raphaelites. This book was actually our textbook, but I couldn't bring myself to sell it back once the class was over. I love all the images, and it's actually a good read if you like the period.

Okay, okay, hear me out. I saw this in our university bookstore my sophomore year and couldn't resist buying it. It's the most gorgeous pop-up book I've ever seen. It somehow managed to survive the Mold Incident of 2010, and is sitting on my shelf, waiting to be boxed up and moved across the country. I don't care that it's a children's book -- I still love it.

I love fashion, and Chanel is by far my favorite designer. Naturally, I had to have a book on her work.

Yet another textbook I couldn't get rid of. The cover is gorgeous, and I love all of the images inside. It covers clothing from the ancient world to present, and is chock full of useful information. I've definitely consulted this when writing.

My collection wouldn't be complete without a little Audrey Hepburn. She's my favorite actress, style icon, and overall hero. I'm working my way through all of her movies, but Breakfast at Tiffany's is one of my top three films of all time. I also own 5TH AVENUE, 5 A.M., another coffee table book dedicated to the making of the film. AUDREY 100 is a collection of her best photos, and I stare at them endlessly.

What books do you have on your coffee table?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Movin' On Up!

To the east side! Of the country, that is.

That's right, folks. I'm moving to New York City. Gotham. The Big Apple. The city that never sleeps. In just five short months, I'll be leaving the humdrum life of small town Wisconsin to chase after my lifelong dream of living in a big city. The big city. It's been official for a little over a week, so most of you probably already know. But since this blog is supposed to be about my journey into publishing, whichever route I happen to take, I figured it was important to document this life changing decision of mine.

You know when you were a kid, and you told people you wanted to be a vet because you spent your days bandaiding your stuffed animals? Yeah, that wasn't me. For as long as I can remember, I dreamed of leaving the Midwest. I love my family, and I love my friends, but the state of Wisconsin and I just don't get along. Publishing doesn't exist here, for one thing, but even before I knew that's what I wanted to do, I felt out of place. I liked big cities full of lots of people. I like noise. Mountains and rolling hills just don't do it for me; give me a sidewalk and some skyscrapers and I'm good to go. Living in D.C. gave me a taste of what it would be like to live somewhere bigger, somewhere better. Public transportation? Yes, please! (Though I will admit, I don't much like the idea of handing my car over to my siblings.) Businessmen and women everywhere? Why not? 9-5 (but more like 24 hour) jobs? Give me!

As soon as I decided I wanted to go into publishing, I knew I'd eventually wind up in New York. It was kind of a given, really. I just wasn't sure it would happen so soon. But I had a long chat with my parents about this, and they're on board. For a while they tried to pretend like I just thought I was moving. "Oh, Sam, you're so cute. Where do you plan to get all this money from?" Which, granted, is still a question I'm asking myself, but it isn't going to stop me. For the first time in my life, I've made a real, true, Grown Up Decision. To do the things I want to do in life, I need to relocate. So I am.

I am doing it.

Let the countdown begin!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Sexual Tension

It's Wednesday night, and you know what that means! Law & Order: SVU! I don't know about you guys, but I can't get enough of that show. I've been watching it since the day it aired, and I'll be a fan until the day I die. Sundays when I have nothing to do? There's always an SVU marathon to keep me busy. Weeknights? Check. Wednesdays? Glued to my TV for an hour.

But I'm not here to preach to you the wonders of SVU (though you should watch it if you haven't). I'm here to talk to you about sexual tension. SVU just happens to be a great jumping off point.

For those of you who are unfamiliar, SVU is centered around the NYC Special Victims Unit, and the cops that work there. Most prominently, partners Olivia Benson and Elliot Stabler. I'm pretty sure 99.9% of fans have been cheering for them since day one, but the nice thing about SVU is that it doesn't dwell on personal relationships. Season 8 deviated from that a bit, and there have been a fair amount of episodes that really showcased the closeness Olivia and Elliot have. But what keeps people coming back, besides the incredible acting, is the sexual tension. Maybe us fans have made it all up, but I don't think so. Because the moment the writers put Olivia and Elliot together, the show is over. I'm expecting it to happen during the final episode, whenever that may be, but until then, I don't want to see it.

But why would it mean the end of the show, you ask? Simple. Because the sexual tension would be gone. The "will they or won't they" question will have been answered, and there would be nothing left to build up to. Having Detective Beck step in for a while helped to increase the sexual tension, and the fact that Elliot's married (when is he going to divorce Kathy again?) creates conflict. All of these obstacles are what drive the show and the Olivia/Elliot relationship.

Or how about Bones? Booth and Bones had constant sexual tension until this last season. As soon as they began to actually acknowledge their feelings for each other, the show began to falter. The writers tried to create more conflict by giving Booth a new love interest, but it wasn't the same, and the fire between him and Bones seems to have flickered. Their story isn't nearly as interesting these days, and I really wish they'd kill off Hannah. Now that the overwhelming issue of their attraction has been addressed, the show doesn't have much to run on.

Another good example is Ballykissangel. The writers created conflict via Father Clifford's profession, so while the viewer knew he was attracted to Assumpta, they knew he couldn't act on his feelings, and vice versa. Thus, sexual tension. As soon as the relationship turned into something real, the show was over.

See a pattern? The thing with sexual tension is that you have to have it to create conflict, which is a driving force behind all storytelling. Once the sexual tension is resolved, the story is generally over. It's a great lesson to take away from television, and I've definitely tried to incorporate it into my own writing. As I begin revisions for SILENCE, I'm taking this particular lesson to heart. I'm adding in much more during the first half of the book, and trying to carry it throughout part two, even with a character being absent. This actually works pretty well, because even with one character missing, the other is constantly working to find him, and to get back the love she's lost.

How about sexual tension in literature? Take TWILIGHT, for example. Edward is initially so hot and cold around Bella that it makes the moment where they become an official couple that much more satisfying. And even after that, the fact that Edward so desperately wants to drink her blood but refuses to let himself creates more sexual tension. Especially because Bella is a horny teenager who wants to consummate their relationship.

HUNGER GAMES. Obvious sexual tension there, caused by the triangle of Katniss, Gale, and Peeta. Having a third party automatically ups the ante. Obviously Peeta was going to win in the end, but there were definitely moments where one wondered if Gale would be a better choice.

Going back to the television theme, how many of you remember the show La Femme Nikita? It is my all-time favorite and, coincidentally, offers the best example of unresolved sexual tension. For those who've seen the show from beginning to end, you'll understand this a bit better, but in case anyone decides to start watching the show, I don't want to spoil anything. The thing about LFN is that the two main characters, Michael and Nikita, are put to the test for five seasons. Just when you think they're going to get together, Section does something to force them apart. Sometimes, it's even their own doing. They're always back and forth with their feelings and loyalties, and it created some of the best sexual tension EVER, as far as I'm concerned. For being a man of so few words, Michael manages to convey his feelings and desires in a mere look, while Nikita is constantly pushing him with heartfelt words and actions. Their obvious differences make it that much more difficult for them to be together, and wondering just how they could ever manage to make it work is a huge driving force of the show. Not to mention the fact that the universe is constantly trying to keep the apart. It's the most genius show ever, and if you want a prime example of sexual tension, look no further.

Think back to some of your favorite shows or books. How were the relationships handled? Once the sexual tension was resolved, did the story have to end? I'd say, in most cases, that's true. As I said, it's obviously an important part of storytelling, and I encourage you to look back at your own work and consider the relationships between characters. Is the tension and conflict there? Is it continuous throughout the story? If it isn't, is there a way to fix it? It's definitely something I've come to pay close attention to these days, and I hope you'll remember to focus on sexual tension the next time you sit down to write. Just like in SVU, good sexual tension will keep readers (or viewers) coming back for more!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Intern Tips: Query Edition

As some of you know, I got the chance to head back to D.C. over winter break! I made sure to stop by my internship to say hello, and was given the opportunity to spend a few days reading queries. I thought I'd spend today imparting some general query wisdom with y'all. Hope this helps!

1. Don’t start your query with a rhetorical question (ie: Have you ever felt the nagging urge to lop off your arm, tie it to a rock, and throw it in the ocean as a way to get over your ex?). It isn’t just a personal pet peeve – most agents will tell you they despise the rhetorical question as well.

2. Don’t use a quote before your query. Especially if it’s unrelated to your book. Even if it is related, it isn’t necessary.

3. Don’t send unsolicited attachments. Especially if your query is IN the attachment. It will never see the light of day.

4. I’d generally advise against using smiley faces.

5. Never, ever, ever address a query as follows: Dear Agent, To Whom It May Concern, Dear Sir/Ma’am, etc. Use their name. And be sure to spell it correctly.

6. If you send a hasty query and later realize there’s a typo, don’t send the query again, apologizing. (I’ll admit, I’m guilty of this one.)

7. This is just a suggestion, but you should probably take it to heart: don’t send queries using your email address from 1995 (you know the one – Go to and set up an account using your actual name. Much more professional.

8. Don’t you dare send out a mass query! [Waves finger] That is a major no-no.

9. A synopsis is not a query. Ex-agent superhero, Nathan Bransford, has a great article on how to write a good query.

10. Don’t send a letter that’s all about your qualifications (or lack thereof) for writing your book, but never actually saying what said book is about.

11. It’s fine if this is your first book. Everyone has to start somewhere! But don’t give the entire history of how long it took you to write it.

12. Inserting random sentences from your manuscript isn’t the best way to sell it.

13. Do NOT just send a list of characters and how they relate to each other.

14. Do not send a marketing proposal.

15. Please don’t compare your books to the Bible, Harry Potter, Twilight, or anything by Nicholas Sparks.

16. Make sure you send everything the submission guidelines ask for. If an agent asks to see the first five pages pasted beneath your query, do it. Similarly, don’t send pages if an agent doesn’t ask to see them.

17. If you’re rejected, don’t respond to ask for the names of other agents you could send your query to.

18. Don’t send queries for three different books within the span of five minutes. Query one at a time.

19. Always check for typos. Sometimes we make mistakes, but if your query is riddled with them, no one is going to request to see more because they’ll assume the same of the manuscript.

20. Always wait at least six weeks before checking in to see if an agent has read your query. (Unless their submission guidelines say they don’t respond to those they aren’t interested in. Then you shouldn’t bother.)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Book Recommendation: Choker

CHOKER by Elizabeth Woods
Published January 4th, 2011 by Simon & Schuster
240 Pages
Sixteen-year-old Cara Lange has been a loner ever since she moved away from her best and only friend, Zoe, years ago. She eats lunch with the other girls from the track team, but they're not really her friends. Mostly she spends her time watching Ethan Gray from a distance, wishing he would finally notice her, and avoiding the popular girls who call her "Choker" after a humiliating incident in the cafeteria. 

Then one day Cara comes home to find Zoe waiting for her. Zoe's on the run from problems at home, and Cara agrees to help her hide. With her best friend back, Cara's life changes overnight. Zoe gives her a new look and new confidence, and next thing she knows, she's getting invited to parties and flirting with Ethan. Best of all, she has her BFF there to confide in. 
But just as quickly as Cara's life came together, it starts to unravel. A girl goes missing in her town, and everyone is a suspect—including Ethan. Worse still, Zoe starts behaving strangely, and Cara begins to wonder what exactly her friend does all day when she's at school. You're supposed to trust your best friend no matter what, but what if she turns into a total stranger?

CHOKER was definitely not what I expected. I picked it up with the idea that it would be your typical high school mystery where a girl goes missing and the MC is in love with Mr. Popular. That's what the synopsis hinted at. Still, it sounded interesting enough, and I needed something to keep me company at the airport this morning.

I got more than I bargained for. In a good way.

Originally I wasn't sure where the story was going. Cara was a sympathetic character and pretty easy to relate to, and you felt terrible every time someone at school was unnecessarily cruel (which seemed quite often); Sydney and Alexis made me kind of want to rip their hair out. Cara was your standard quiet, loner type with absent parents and a big house that was usually empty. It took a while to get into the story, but things really picked up once Zoe arrived.

In all honesty, Zoe was the reason I kept reading. Even from the prologue, you get the sense something's not quite right. The more you see of her, the faster you realize your gut reaction was right. She says and does things that make your skin crawl. I saw Black Swan earlier this month, and that same creeped out, disturbed feeling you get while watching it is what I felt while reading this book. Zoe is legitimately messed up, and she truly carries the entire book.

There's a twist at the end I didn't see coming (though you will in retrospect). I like it when books mess with your head, and I think the end of this one does an excellent job. I can't say much more about it without giving everything away.

No, CHOKED isn't my new favorite book, but if you enjoy a good puzzle, I'd say pick this one up. I definitely have a few people in mind I'll be passing this off to.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Don't Show Up In Overalls

It amazes me the amount of people who don't do their research before querying. Obviously they know how to use the internet, since they managed to track down the agent's name and send them an email. So how is it such a large chunk continuously gets it wrong? Like, really wrong?

It all boils down to research. You spend an exorbitant amount of time writing and editing your book (or, at least, we hope so) - why not take the same care when it comes to finding Awesome Agent?

I completed the first draft of my latest novel, SILENCE (Secret Project, for those who've been following my progress), today, and as tradition follows, I began to put together an excel sheet for the agents I plan to query once revisions are complete (whenever that is). I always do this before revisions, mostly as a kind of motivation. When I get sick of fixing the same passage and am ready to give up, I turn to my excel sheet and see all those names and think to myself, 'One of them could be It. One of them could be my Awesome Agent.' And then I kick my butt in gear and keep going.

If you're serious about getting published, you want an agent by your side, and you aren't going to get one if you just query blindly. Those mass emails where fifty agents are in the CC box? Major no-no. And what about queries addressed to 'Dear Agent' or 'To Whom it May Concern'? Unprofessional. Think of querying as a job interview: your agent is hiring, and you're the number one applicant. You aren't going to show up unprepared for your interview, are you? No. You'll have done your research, you'll be dressed nicely, and use your very best manners. Just because you're sending an email doesn't mean all that goes out the window.

In an attempt to help those of you who plan to query soon, as well as those who've been querying but may have gone about it all wrong, here are some tips I hope you'll find useful.

1. To find an agent, you first need to know the genre of your book. If you're not sure, check out Publishers Weekly or your local bookstore and compare your manuscript to recent titles. The first book I queried, THE AGE OF NEVER GROWING OLD, was an odd mix of dystopian, science fiction, and romance, so I poured over issues of PW to find my best angle.

2. Once you've got your genre narrowed down, check out sites like querytracker and agentquery. They have great search engines that will find you agents who represent your particular genre.

3. Make a list of the agents you find. I find Excel to be a really great tool for this. If you don't have it on  your computer, Google offers a free version online. Here's an example of what mine look like:
The columns are as such: agents, agency, query requirements, genre I'm marketing the book as, date I sent the query, date of rejection (in black), date of requested partial, date of requested full, offer of representation, notes, and recorded response time.

I'm also big on color coding. The example above isn't finished, and I think gdocs ate my file for TANGO queries, which is what I'd planned to show you. However, agents I'm most interested in working with are usually highlighted in yellow, those who've got sample pages or a full are changed to green, and those who've sent rejections get turned red. Because SILENCE will be the second book I query, and in an entirely new market (YA versus adult), I'm finding that I have to remove a great many names from TANGO's list. However, there were a couple of agents who asked to see future projects, and they've been highlighted in blue. Recorded response times come from previously querying, word of mouth, or stats that can be found online.

4. Once you've made your excel sheet (and probably before you go ahead and color code it if you're anal like me), take the time to individually research each name you put on your list. Some of them may be closed to queries, in which case you need to delete them. Also, the information you found online may not be accurate, and you need to adjust accordingly. If someone no longer represents YA fantasy, and that's what you wrote, you don't want to query them. Querying an agent with something they don't represent is disrespectful and shows that you didn't take the time to do your research. It makes you look bad, and none of us wants to look bad.

Many agents have done interviews, have bios on their agency websites, or have a Publishers Marketplace profile where you can find out more information. Read carefully. That book you wrote may just be exactly what Awesome Agent is looking for. In some cases, it might not. But it's best to know ahead of time what you're getting yourself into.

5. My biggest suggestion? Get on Twitter. There are loads of agents and editors on there who will flat out tell you what kinds of things they're hoping to see in the slush pile. You can get to know a few of them before you even begin querying, and in some cases may find someone you really connect with and would want to work with. Social networking is there for you to use - take advantage of it.

I've seen so many queries that don't follow the rules. At all. Here's a little breakdown for you:

- About 50-60% are for things the agent doesn't represent.
- 20-30% don't follow the rules. They come as attachments, or list all the author's credentials but never once mention the book. Some of these are also mass queries, or letters where the grammar/writing is so bad, you know it'll carry over into the manuscript itself. Loads of other things fall into this category as well, but it would take a long time to list them.
- Roughly 20% are probably okay queries. It just depends on if it's something the agent would want to see.

So really, if you do your research and specifically choose the people on your list, you're already in better shape than nearly 80% of the querying population! Those odds aren't nearly as bad. And you know why? Because you did your research. You showed up with your makeup done and your suit pressed, while Billy Bob Joe came in a ripped up t-shirt and overalls.

Don't show up in overalls.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Teaser Tuesday

I'm two chapters away from finishing the first draft of my current WIP (aka Secret Project), so I thought it was high time I shared a piece of it with y'all. Besides, I haven't done a Teaser Tuesday in a while. So, without further ado, here is a small excerpt from chapter 16.


            I couldn’t move. As soon as we’d neared Benning Ridge, one of the Guards had zapped me with that paralytic wand they carried at their waist. I’d watched muddy soil pass beneath us as they carried me into the gated camp. Pale, bony feet passed through my line of vision, but never any faces. I could smell rot and decay, and my heart skipped a beat every time I heard someone scream. Though the sun was out now, an impenetrable gloom hung over the place, and as much as I wanted to run away, to search for Zion and leave, it was all I could do to keep breathing.
            We passed through a set of large metal doors, and then descended three flights of steps into the depths of what I assumed to be some sort of headquarters. The floor was slate gray, as were the walls. Rivets held the sheeting together, and thick metal doors hid any number of things from prying eyes. I pictured rooms full of bodies, torture chambers, labs, and arsenals. I wanted to scream, but my throat had all but dried up.
            I heard the jingling of keys, and then one of the doors swung open. I was deposited onto a thick concrete slab, my nose and cheek pressed against the icy stone. This paralytic was stronger than the one used on me when I’d been with Andrew; I couldn’t move my lips or blink my eyes. The effort it took to draw in a breath was excruciating, and my chest felt like a balloon about ready to burst. My eyes itched and burned, and I was desperate to blink them. I could’ve cried, but somehow even that bodily function was on hold. I was literally a wet rag. A ragdoll.
            I was helpless.
            The door slammed behind me, and the overhead light clicked off, shrouding me in darkness. Cool air caressed my body, and my skin tingled. I sensed goosebumps spread across my arms, but I had no way to warm myself. I lay there in misery, a prisoner trapped inside my own mind. Was it possible Zion was in one of these cells? Was he even at Benning Ridge? Who else had lain on this slab, wondering how much longer they had to live? How much longer did I have?
            I wasn’t sure how long I lay there. It could’ve been an hour; it could’ve been ten. Blood slowly pumped back into my extremities, and after a while I was able to push myself into a sitting position. I couldn’t see an inch in front of my face, and the thought that someone or something else lurked in the room crossed my mind a fair amount. I tried to steel myself for whatever was coming next, but when the door swung open and the lights switched on, I was thrown off guard. The fluorescents were blinding, and I squinted against the all-consuming white. My eyes wouldn’t adjust fast enough, and a hand gripped either of my arms, lifting me off my seat and dragging me into the hallway. My feet clumsily trailed after, and my fingers danced at my sides, but at least out here, in the dimly lit hallway, I could see.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

How About a Contest to Ring in the New Year?

I'm determined to start 2011 off right, and what better way to do that than helping someone else start their manuscript off right? So, as a New Year's gift from me to you, I'm giving away either a first-50-pages critique, or a query-and-synopsis critique. Winner chooses!

- Leave a comment telling me your most recent read, and give it a thumbs-up or thumbs-down.
- Your comment must also include your email address, so I can contact you if you win.
- Your manuscript must be finished.

That's it! You don't have to follow this blog, follow me on twitter, or anything (though if you want to, that's totally fine!). The deadline is Sunday, January 30th. The winner will be picked using a random number generator.

Good luck, everyone!

***This contest is in no way affiliated with the agency I work for.